9 April 2009

We’re coming up to local unitary and European elections in a few weeks on 4 June and it is timely to set out the recent electoral record of the nationalist party in Cornwall, Mebyon Kernow (MK). I’ve explored in previous posts my beliefs that MK represents only a small minority among Cornwall voters and that political nationalism misreads the affection for Cornwall felt by people here; therefore I’ll largely focus this post on the electoral facts.

MK has not contested every available seat in the past and this has reduced its total vote but this partialness probably reflects its political health and estimation of its chances. It has candidates selected for every Cornwall seat for the next general election, probably in 2010.

The local elections are for a new-start unitary council of 123 seats, replacing the county council which had 82 seats and six district councils which had a total of 249 seats. The European elections are for six seats in the vast southwest constituency stretching from Land’s End to Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

European elections
MK fought in the 1979, 1989, and 1994 European elections but those results are too distant in time to be relevant to 2009; the voting system and constituency have also changed. MK has never had an MEP.

Cornwall county council
The last elections were in 2005. MK won no seats. It did not contest every county council seat and in the the seats it contested, approximately a quarter of the total, MK got 9 percent of the votes cast (not ballots issued as in some seats voters had more than one vote). Overall MK got 9421 votes, that is 3.2 percent, of the total votes cast (not ballots issued ) in all the county council seats in which there were elections.

There are online maps of the unitary electoral divisions here.

Cornwall district councils
There were 249 district/borough councillors in the six district councils at abolition in March 2009 and MK had 9 district councillors. In the 2007 district council elections in Cornwall there were 225 seats out of the 249 for election; MK put up twenty four candidates and they polled a total of 8919 votes. Seven were elected and since then two other councillors have joined MK, making a total of nine district councillors.

Cornwall parish and town councils
There are 208 parish/town councils in Cornwall. MK has 19 councillors out of several hundred (March 2009).

Parliamentary general elections
MK has fought eight of the ten general elections between 1970 and 2005. In the 2005 general election in Cornwall MK won about one in sixty of the votes cast in the four seats it contested. MK has no MPs.

4 June
In its forty years as a political party Mebyon Kernow has so far made no discernibly consistent progress in the numbers and proportion of voters it attracts, though by and large it does better at local rather than national elections. It is a decidedly minority party. In the unitary elections for the whole county MK starts from a base of about three percent of the total (county council) votes cast, about 9 percent in the county seats it contested, and 9 (district) councillors. The new council has far fewer seats than the old county and district councils combined so MK’s likely haul is difficult to forecast but to stand still it must expect to win some. There is little chance that MK, a one-county party, will win any of the six seats in the Euro constituency which stretches surreally way, way beyond Cornwall.

Election results are published by a variety of sources including national and local newspapers, councils, and various websites. For individual parliamentary constituency results see the websites here and here.